February 15, 2013

District News

Finding a Voice

Visit any of our nine elementary schools on a February afternoon, and you are apt to find classrooms in story hour. Rooms will be quiet except for an adult reading a story. If you peek around the door, you will see children gathered cross-legged nestled into one corner, clustered around a guest reader in a rocking chair.

If you look closely, you will think, "Where have I seen that reader before?" Perhaps you will recognize a mayor, school board member, mom or dad, grandpa or grandma or a long-time volunteer.  

In one first grade classroom the teacher pulls up a stool and says, "Children, before our guest reads, I want to read you a story I wrote." Thus follows a beautiful story about a teacher and her students. Boys and girls sit spellbound as the teacher describes a classroom filled with children who love to read, but struggle when it comes time to write their own stories. At the end she says, "Who do you think this story is about?"  

One brave student asks, "About us?"

"Yes, about you! Like the children in my story, sometimes you have a hard time figuring out how to take the words you love to read and put them down in a story."  The children reassured their teacher and guest reader that they would write their own stories! 

Each month I meet with high school seniors who are part of a mentoring program. After each session, a guidance counselor gives each a folder which shows grades, progress and missing assignments. During one meeting last fall, a senior admits to struggles with writing. I encourage her to consider going to the new Writing Center at South Campus, made possible by generous contributions from our School Foundation and the Glasrud Family Foundation.

This month began a "new chapter" in this student's life. She did go to the Writing Center and received coaching. She beamed when she showed me her semester grades. 

In a world of technology with an emphasis on math, science, engineering and technology, one critical skill more important than ever is the ability to write clearly and with confidence.  

A first grade teacher encourages her students by writing her own story. A senior receives coaching. For every one of us, from our youngest students through adults, to write confidently and "find our voice," it helps to have someone who will listen. A writer needs readers. During "I Love to Read Month," that means all of us.

Dr. Michael Lovett


General Information

Did You Know?


2013-15 Academic Calendars

The White Bear Lake Area School Board approved a 2-year calendar covering the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years at a regular meeting on Monday, February 11.

Download the full 2013-15 academic calendars here.

Annual Report to the Community

The White Bear Lake Area Schools Annual Report to the Community is available online. This report includes a variety of student achievement data, information on new initiatives, financial reporting and other important information on District 624.

The report was mailed to all District residents during the first week of December. Community members can also download the report here or contact the Superintendent's Office at (651) 407-7563 to request a copy.

Community Services

The WBLAS Community Services and Recreation Department provides a wide range of services and opportunities that enhance the quality of life for all members of ISD 624.

You're invited to attend a Plymouth Playhouse production of The Church Basement Ladies 2: A Second Helping at 7 p.m. on February 21 and 22 at the White Bear Lake Area Community Auditorium. Fifty percent of proceeds will benefit the new transitional care and wellness center and chapel at Cerenity White Bear Lake. Click here to get your tickets.

The Community Services and Recreation Winter 2013 Catalog is available online. Zumba is back 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday evenings beginning February 27 at Oneka Elementary School or Tuesday evenings beginning March 5 at Sunrise Park Middle School.

Parent Notices:

  • Growing Healthy Families - Join the Early Childhood program from 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 to explore a variety of health, wellness and nutritional resources from the community. You will learn helpful tips on making healthy meals on a budget and have a chance to talk with local health and wellness experts. Children 2-5 will participate in gym activities with childcare available for children under 2 years old. The cost is $5 per family.  Please pre-register by March 11 by calling 651-653-3100 or visiting us in person at Normandy Park.
  • Early Childhood Screening - All 3 to 5 year old children in Minnesota are required to complete early childhood screening before entrance into kindergarten. Early screening is recommended and available throughout the year at no cost through the White Bear Lake Area Schools. Click here to schedule an appointment at an upcoming session on March 8, 15, 22 or April 5.
  • Early Childhood Mini-Sessions - Families with children ages 2 - 4 are invited to check out the District's Early Childhood Program through daytime "mini sessions" offered throughout the academic year. Find information about the 3-week sessions. The next session, "Rain, Rain, Go Away" begins in March.
  • Tech Talk - Find the latest Assistive Technology Newsletter here.
  • Teacher of the Year Nominees - Congratulations to all staff members nominated for the 2013 Teacher of the Year Award! Click here to view the full list of nominees.
  • Winter Weather - Visit our school closings page to learn about winter weather procedures.
  • "The Good Old Black and Blue" - Mark your calendars for the Annual Lions Club Show - a musical comedy, "The Good Old Black and Blue" showing at the Community Theater this March. The proceeds of this show benefit local community organizations, including the White Bear Lake Area School District. This year, approximately $5,000 will be donated to WBLAS to purchase wireless headsets for future musical, theater and art performances. Get your tickets online.

Senior Program Updates:

The White Bear Area Senior Center is a program of the White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services & Recreation Department.

  • Community Resources - The White Bear Lake Area offers many resources for older adults in the community. Click here to view a comprehensive list of programs and services.
  • Senior Activity Passes - Free Activity Passes are currently available for senior community members ages 65 and up. Those who would like a free pass and a 2012-13 Activities Calendar can contact Jody Reber at 651-407-7563 to request an application.
  • New/Used Audio Book DVD Library - The White Bear Area Senior Center (located at Normandy Park Education Center in White Bear Lake) is starting an Audio Book DVD Library. If you would like to pass your favorite audio book DVDs forward, please consider our Lending Library. Everyone also is welcome to utilize our library for your listening pleasure. Library & Audio Book DVD Drop Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

In Every Issue:

  • White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation - The White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation, Inc. (WBLAEF) is an independent, non-profit corporation promoting excellence in education in White Bear Lake Area School District 624 schools. Find the WBLAEF website here.
    • Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 2013 Lynn Mielke Distinguished Educator Award. Staff, parents, students and community members are encouraged to nominate an educator who fulfills the spirit and legacy of former educator, Lynn Mielke. Click here for the nomination form and to learn more about the award. Nominations are due on or before March 22.
    • J. Stanley and Doris Hill Legacy Award - The WBLAEF is seeking nominations for the 2013 Hill Legacy Award to acknowledge an area citizen who has given a lifetime of volunteer service to his or her community. Click here to learn more about the award and how to submit nominations by February 22.
    • The Closet - With the cold weather outside, The Closet is seeking winter clothing and outerwear. Donations can be dropped off at the District Center or at the ALC building at 2449 Orchard Lane in White Bear Lake. Jeans of all shapes and sizes are also greatly needed.
    • WBLAEF Newsletter - Find the most recent White Bear Lake Area Educational Foundation's newsletter here. To sign-up for the electronic newsletter, please send a request to lisa.lindvall@isd624.org or call 651-407-7696.
  • Energy Efficiency Program - The Schools for Energy Efficiency® (SEE) is a comprehensive program for K-12 schools to save energy and money by changing behavior throughout the district. Find the latest update here to learn how you can efficiently light a room during the darker winter months.


Support WBLAS Students:

  • Concerts & Music Programs - The following programs are free and open to the public:
    • Lakeaires Elementary 2nd and 3rd Grade Music Concert at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on February 21
    • Matoska International 2nd and 3rd Grade Music Program at 6 p.m. on February 21. Students will be collecting donations for the Ntonga School of Music in South Africa: Playing for Change Foundation. All proceeds go towards purchasing musical instruments.
    • Oneka Elementary 3rd Grade Music Concert at 6 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on February 21
    • Lincoln Elementary 3rd Grade Music Program at 1:40 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on February 21
    • Willow Lane Elementary 3rd Grade Concert at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on February 26
  • Vadnais Heights Science & Art Fair - All community members are welcome to attend the K-5 Vadnais Heights Elementary School Art & Science Fair from 6:30-8 p.m. on February 21 in the school gymnasium.
  • Pirates! The Musical - Elementary students at Otter Lake, Oneka and Matoska International are teaming up with Ashland Productions this March to present performances of "Pirates! The Musical". Set sail with the cast for a mighty adventure on the high seas! Tickets are $10.00 each and on sale now by visiting the Ashland Productions website.
    • Otter Lake Elementary School: 7 p.m. on March 8, 2 p.m. on March 9 and 2 p.m. on March 10
    • Oneka Elementary School: 7 p.m. on March 14, 7 p.m. on March 16 and 2 p.m. on March 17
    • Matoska International IB World School: 7 p.m. on March 15, 2 p.m. on March 16 and 7 p.m. on March 17
  • Growing Healthy Families - Join the Early Childhood program from 6:15 - 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 14 to explore a variety of health, wellness and nutritional resources from the community. You will learn helpful tips on making healthy meals on a budget and have a chance to talk with local health and wellness experts. Children 2-5 will participate in gym activities with childcare available for children under 2 years old. The cost is $5 per family.  Please pre-register by March 11 by calling 651-653-3100 or visiting us in person at Normandy Park

Awards and Honors

  • ExCEL Award - The Minnesota State High School League has announced its ExCEL winners for 2013 and we are proud to announce that White Bear Lake Area High School junior, Bethany Kozak, has been selected as one of this year's recipients. ExCEL - Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership - is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, who show leadership qualities and who volunteer in their communities.
  • Honor Band Member - Congratulations to WBLAHS student, Austin Duffy, who has been selected for membership in the Minnesota Band Directors Association 9th and 10th Grade Honor Band.
  • State Ski Qualifiers: Congratulations to Nordic Ski State Qualifiers: Ari Adams, Laura Handke, Sean Kasprisin, RaeAnne Kolasa and Allison Tiernes. Allison Ternes also took 7th place at the Nordic Ski State Meet. Congratulations to Alpine Ski State Qualifiers Kate Cox and Andrew Hondlik.
  • Letters of Intent - Our latest round of college-bound athletes signed their letters of intent in a recent Athlete Signing Ceremony at WBLAHS - South Campus:
    • Cody Braeger - Football at Northern State University
    • Tarah Hobbs - Soccer at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    • Taylor Johnson - Soccer at University of Minnesota, Duluth
    • Mike Maw - Football at University of Minnesota, Crookston
    • Nick Truen - Football at Northern State University
  • Insight Program - Deputy Director David Mineta from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently wrote a letter of support for the Association of Recovery Schools (ARS). The White Bear Lake Area Learning Center's Insight Program is one of fewer than 40 member schools across the nation. We are proud of the excellent work of our program!

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit District News, General Information, Opportunities or Awards & Honors for inclusion in future publications.

I Love to  Read Month

In honor of "I Love to Read Month," students and staff throughout the district are finding creative ways to encourage reading. Students at Lincoln Elementary School are getting "wild about reading" with a Read-a-thon. The school is working hard to reach their goal of 130,000 minutes of reading - equivalent to over 90 days - by February 22. If the students reach their goal, Principal Dan Schmidt has agreed to let the students take him on a "messy safari" with special guests Becky the Book Worm and Jungle Jim.

Also hosting a month-long Read-a-thon is Matoska International IB World School. To kick off the event, students participated in a Book Character Day where they dressed up as their favorite fictional or non-fictional character. Guests for the day included Harry Potter, Pippi Longstocking and Abraham Lincoln.


Otter Lake Elementary is celebrating with a giant game of "Bookopoly" as an incentive to get students to curl up with a good book. The school has constructed a giant board game and students move their pieces along the path each day in a race to the most reading hours. By reading their favorite stories at home, students help their class earn fictional "Bookopoly" money. The class with the highest score at the end of February will receive a gift certificate for the upcoming Book Fair.


At Vadnais Heights Elementary students are participating in a "Caterpillar Reading Challenge" with a goal of reading 100,000 minutes at home throughout the month. Principal Sara Svir has agreed that if students achieve their goal, she will wear a Dr. Seuss character costume for a day. Students are keeping track of their progress by adding a circle to their classroom's caterpillar for every 20 minutes that they spend reading. A visit to Vadnais Heights will show that the caterpillars are rapidly taking over hallways! Around the building you can also see which books students and staff members list as their favorites. Not only are students reading at home this month, but each Tuesday in February, students join in DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time.


The activities are not just limited to our elementary students. At Central Middle School, students are celebrating with a weekly home-base activity in which they must guess the correct name of a book by hearing only the first few lines of a story. Each day students also play "Library Lingo" requiring them to match the name of popular books with their authors. Whether it's reading your favorite book or browsing through a magazine or newspaper, we hope you'll join us in celebrating "I Love to Read Month."

The NASCAN 500

Each year, sixth grade students at Central Middle School participate in an electrifying race that puts their science skills to the test - The NASCAN 500!

Equipped with only a 12 oz aluminum can, a balloon and the principles of magnetism they have learned in Physical Science, teams of students use static electricity to roll cans to a specific destination and back again. Principal Noel Schmidt had the honor of sounding the air horn that marked the start of the competition. To generate the static electricity used to move  the cans, students frantically rubbed balloons against their hair or articles of clothing. The students cheered and groaned as their teams advanced to the next round of racing or were left behind on the track.


After many rounds of fierce competition students from Lynsey Fast's class were the first to cross the finish line in the final race. The team of Kyle Valdes, Blake Meister, Aaron Wahl and Jake Spring - "The Pandas" - claimed the NASCAN 500 traveling trophy. In the words of one of the winning teammates, "We thumped them!"

Success on the Slopes

As the skiing season draws to an end, the WBLAHS Nordic and Alpine Ski Teams have much to be proud of in their 2012-2013 seasons.

Facing teams in the Suburban East Conference (SEC) - one of the most competitive conferences in the state for skiing - the Nordic ski team had one of the most successful seasons in recent memory. Throughout the winter, the girls team consistently finished in the top three, and the boys team in the top five. At the end of January, the team had their best showing of the year as they traveled to Trollhaugen for the Suburban East Conference Meet. After exceptional performances, skiers Ari Adams, Laura Handke, Sean Kasprisin, RaeAnne Kolasa, Allison Ternes and Karl Solberg were awarded All-Conference Honors. Ben Ehrlich, Katie Esboldt, Megan Kratzke and Jake Marzitelli were also recognized with All-Conference Honorable Mention.

At the Section 6 competition in early February, the boys team took third place overall and Captain Sean Kasprisin qualified to compete at the state meet. Fellow teammate and Captain Karl Solberg also had an outstanding meet and narrowly missed the opportunity to compete at state by one place. The girls team took second overall and qualified 4 individuals to race in the state meet: Captain Ari Adams, Allison Ternes, Laura Handke and RaeAnne Kolasa. At the state championships junior Allison Ternes took 7th, senior Sean Kasprisin took 54th, junior Raeanne Kolasa took 60th, junior Laura Handke took 81st and senior Ari Adams took 97th out of 120 skiers in each of the boys' and girls' divisions.

At the Section 4 meet at Wild Mountain in early February, two members of the WBLAHS alpine ski team also advanced for their state competition. Junior Andrew Hondlik had two excellent runs and skied to a 5th place finish. After a more conservative first run, freshman teammate, Kate Cox, took advantage of fresh snow falling later in the competition with some aggressive skiing which propelled her into 12th place. The boys team finished 7th overall out of 23 schools and girls team took home 10th. At the state championships Kate and Andrew faced a tough field of competition with 88 skiers in each of the boys' and girls' divisions.  Kate took home 42nd place with Andrew claiming 45th.

Both teams would like to thank their coaches, parents and fans for great seasons. They are looking forward to seeing you back on the slopes next year!

Activities Updates

The Boys Basketball Team won recent games against Stillwater, Duluth East, and Mounds View. The WBLAHS Girls Basketball Team adds recent wins against Stillwater and Mounds View to their list of season successes. The White Bear Varsity Cheerleaders placed third in the Super Large Division of the Minnesota Cheerleading Coaches Association State Tournament at the beginning of February. The middle school team took second place in its division. In Boys Hockey, the momentum continues with recent victories over Park, Stillwater and Roseville. The team is now second in the Suburban East Conference. The Bear Wresting Team went 3-0 in last week's competition with victories against Roseville, East View, and North St. Paul.  Good luck in the Section 4AAA tournament on February 16 and individual section tournament on February 22-33!

White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.

A comprehensive 2012-13 District Activities schedule can be found here.

Please contact the Communications Department (651-407-7578) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.

Before the February 11, 2013 Regular Meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board Recognized the following students:

  • All-State Band, All-State Choir and Honors Choir students
  • WBLAHS fall musical "Anything Goes" cast and crew

Upcoming meetings

Date Type Time Location
Monday, February 25 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, March 11 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112
Monday, March 18 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center Room 201
Monday, April 8 Regular 7 p.m. District Center Community Room 112